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His Excellency, Archbishop Bernardito “Barney” Cleopas Auza (right), with the Filipino Reporter’s Manny Caballero.


Exclusive to the Filipino Reporter

Perhaps, many of our readers are not aware that for almost a year now, there has been a top Filipino (Boholano) priest diplomat in the United Nations representing The Holy See.

He is, His Excellency Archbishop Bernardito “Barney” Cleopas Auza.

He was born in a family of 12 children in Bohol Province and finished his initial priesthood education in the Philippines.

He was ordained in California in 1985 and pursued graduate studies in Rome.

The Filipino Reporter took the initiative of interviewing Archbishop Auza, through the assistance of TOFA-NY Community Service Awardee Roger Santos, who is a core member of the Bohol Restoration Group (BRG), a non-profit group in Washington, D.C. that aims to restore the centuries-old Catholic churches in Bohol that were destroyed by the destructive 2013 earthquake.

This writer was granted permission to conduct one-on-one interview with Archbishop Auza in his midtown Manhattan offices close to the United Nations on March 30, 2015.

Realizing the importance of Archbishop Auza’s post, Filipino Reporter’s aim is to introduce the good archbishop to the Filipino-American community in the United States and via online, to Filipinos everywhere.

The UN mission or office is called “Permanent Observer of the Holy See Mission to the United Nations.”

At the same time, the Boholano Archbishop is the Pontifical Nuncio (or ambassador) of the Holy See to the United Nations.

According to Wikipedia, the Holy See refers to the central government of the Catholic Church in Rome.

It is the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, the episcopal see (jurisdiction or official seat) of the Bishop of Rome — the Pope.

“The Holy See is viewed as analogous to a sovereign state, having a centralized government called the Roman Curia with the Secretary of State as its chief administrator and various departments essential to administration comparable to ministries and executive departments. It enters diplomatic relations with states, and has Vatican City as its sovereign territory.

“Diplomatically, the Holy See acts and speaks for the whole church. It is also recognized by other subjects of international law as a sovereign entity, headed by the Pope, with which diplomatic relations can be maintained.” (Wikipedia)

As envoy of the Holy See to the UN, Archbishop Auza is the head of the Holy See Mission to the United Nations.

Also, according to the free online encyclopedia, Archbishop Auza was born on June 10, 1959 in Balintawak, Talibon, Bohol, Philippines.

He is the eighth of 12 children of parents Meliton Garcia Auza and Magdalena Polestico Cleopas.

After preliminary education in Talibon, he entered the Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary in Tagbilaran City.

He then enrolled at the University of Santo Tomas, Manila, where he obtained his Licentiate in Philosophy in 1981, Licentiate in Theology in 1986 and Masters in Education also in 1986.

As a newly graduate priest, he was ordained by Bishop Daniel Francis Walsh of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Santa Rosa in California on June 29, 1985.

(He was never assigned to the Philippines since. But, he has been visiting his native country. He was a member of the official entourage of Pope Francis during the last Papal Visit to the Philippines.)

The prelate was sent to the Pontifical University of St. Thomas (Angelicum) in Rome, where he obtained a Licentiate in Canon Law in 1989 and a Doctorate in Sacred Theology in 1990, and to the Vatican Diplomatic School (Pontificia Accademia Ecclesiastica), where he finished his diplomatic and linguistic studies in that same year.

Following the death of Archbishop Joseph Serge Miot as a result of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, the good archbishop was also the Apostolic Administrator of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Port-au-Prince for a year.

On July 1, 2014, Archbishop Auza was appointed Permanent Observer to the United Nations in New York representing the Holy See, by Pope Francis replacing Archbishop Francis Chullikatt.

The interview, which lasted over an hour, was a wide-ranging conversation.

Archbishop Auza discussed the nature of the Holy See’s membership as a non-voting member of the UN, but classified and treated as a sovereign state.

He said his Mission could present its position on any issues, but cannot nominate to membership of agencies.

Other subjects dealt with by the interviewee will be published in future issues of the Filipino Reporter.

The Permanent Observer of the Holy See Mission to the UN is at 25 East 39th Street, New York, NY 10016.